Novartis could be answer to ThromboGenics’ woes

The board of ThromboGenics is looking for a new business strategy to help it boost earnings after a disappointing start for its eye treatment Jetrea.

ThromboGenics launched Jetrea in the US in 2013, deciding to go it alone in the world’s most important market by not having a big pharma marketing partner.

Creating an alliance with a major pharma firm – and all the attendant scale of field force and experience in sales and marketing – is standard practice for small biopharma firms. ThromboGenics decided to go it alone, but is now rueing its decision, admitting that sales of Jetrea have fallen short of expectations.

The Belgium based firm, which specialises in opthalmic medicines, has now called in Morgan Stanley to help with the strategic review process. The most obvious partner for the company is Novartis, with whom ThromboGenics already co-markets the drug in all markets outside the US.

ThromboGenics says it wants to increase its “ability to realise the significant commercial potential of Jetrea in the US” and to fully capitalise on its product development capabilities.

Jetrea is the first treatment indicated for symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (VMA)/ vitreomacular traction (VMT) in the US and Europe respectively. Symptomatic VMA/VMT is a progressive, sight-threatening condition that may lead to visual distortion, decreased visual acuity and central blindness.

ThromboGenics signed a strategic partnership with Alcon (Novartis) for the commercialization of Jetrea outside the US. ThromboGenics and Alcon already plan to share the costs equally of developing Jetrea for a number of new vitreoretinal indications.

Dr Patrik De Haes, chief executive of ThromboGenics comments: “The Board has made this decision to explore alternative options for the Company to increase its ability to realise the significant commercial potential of Jetrea in the US market. We are starting the strategic exercise with an open mind. We will update the market in due course”.

The firm also wants looks to broaden the retinal indications that the drug can be used for.

ThromboGenics said that “despite the commercial challenges it has encountered to-date in the US” it believes Jetrea will find its place as a new standard of care for the earlier treatment of symptomatic VMA/VMT.

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